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Business News/ Companies / News/  Mavenir counts on Vi deal to spread across India by 2025
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Mavenir counts on Vi deal to spread across India by 2025

US-based company is using its India facility to meet global demand

Pradeep Kohli, president and chief executive officer, Mavenir. Premium
Pradeep Kohli, president and chief executive officer, Mavenir.

Barcelona: US-based open radio access network or OpenRAN provider Mavenir expects to land a full commercial deal from Vodafone Idea for deploying 5G network by the end of the year, top executives of the company said in an exclusive interaction with Mint in Barcelona, on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress. The technology provider intends to meet the demand from Indian as well as global carriers from its India plant.

The first pilot of the technology for Vodafone Idea is being conducted in Jalandhar, Punjab to test the equipment and functioning of the network such that it meets all the key performance indicators of the existing networks, while in parallel they're scaling up the number of sites to cover the entire state.

“We have moved all the manufacturing of all the radios to India, from Mexico and Florida," said Mavenir president and chief executive officer Pradeep Kohli. "They're manufactured by Jabil in India, and I will need six to nine months to scale up. But, we’re prepared to deploy whenever the customer wants." 

OpenRAN technology helps telecom operators to source hardware and software from different suppliers, thus ending dependence on single vendors. Unlike Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, which opted for traditional 5G technologies from Nokia and Ericsson, Vodafone Idea is the only carrier to look at deploying OpenRAN technology for commercial purposes. Vodafone Idea is yet to launch 5G services commercially despite having tested out the service in two locations—Delhi and Pune. Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of Aditya Birla Group and one of the main promoters of Vodafone Idea, said in November 2023 that the telco will look to introduce 5G services this year.

"We're working with them, how do we take this to a larger scale in the state of one particular circle and subsequently to the other side also, sometime later this year, you will see a major rollout coming with us, pre-condition that they need to raise funds," said India head Sanjay Bakaya.

The third largest Indian carrier by subscribers Vodafone Idea said last week it had approved plans to raise 45,000 crore in equity and debt, including capital from its promoters. it will meet shareholders on 2 April to seek permission to raise 20,000 crore in equity, and complete the process by the end of the June quarter. Following this, the company will look to raise debt, taking the total amount of funding to 45,000 crore.

The technology provider has also been in discussions with Airtel after it conducted India’s first OpenRAN-based 5G network validation in the field, getting over 1 Gbps speeds using commercial mobile devices, last year, the telco said in its annual report.

Kohli noted that deploying OpenRAN in telcos where there is no underlying non-standalone (NSA) networks by Nokia and Ericsson is easier than putting it on top of existing networks, which is why opportunities come up when a new network has to be set up or when replacements of existing networks come about, some of which could be replacements of equipment from Chinese vendors like Huawei and ZTE.

Having moved all radio equipment manufacturing to India over the past six to nine months, Mavenir is now exporting to most markets including Europe from Jabil’s Pune factory. It intends to scale up the manufacturing nearly ten-fold to about 10,000 radios this year.

Kohli said its absence in the Indian market was also one of the reasons for its relatively slow movement here whereas it was able to secure deals with other global players such as Saudi Arabia’s STC, Canadian satellite operator Terrestar Solutions, Israel’s Partner Communications, Virgin Media O2 and Slovak Telecom, for OpenRAN, packet core tech and small cell tech for in-building solutions.

The reporter was in Barcelona to cover Mobile World Congress at the invitation of Xiaomi.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gulveen Aulakh
Gulveen covers both corporate and economy, and policy sections of Mint. She also covers telecom, IT from the corporate side and disinvestment, finance ministry from the economy side. Gulveen finds the rare mix of sectors she covers to be incredibly interesting.
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Published: 03 Mar 2024, 07:26 PM IST
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